Lowrance Screenshot #1 | Smallies Under Baitfish
One of the most difficult aspects to learning how to read sonar is interpreting lines. There are numerous things that can cause your screen to show vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines, so let’s help you eliminate wasted time and get right to it.
This screenshot shows some baitfish up at the top of the water column, a hungry smallmouth bass down at the bottom and some diagonal lines off to the right-hand side. These diagonal lines are a couple of old trees standing up in the water. They’re massive and could be seen underneath the bow of my boat. Since they were cut a couple of feet from the top of the water (I assume to prevent boat damage) I estimate them to be around 12-feet tall. Believe it or not diagonal lines can often be interference, fish moving up and down in the water column or stationary cover.
The reason that trees and other objects show up as diagonal lines is because of your sonar cone angle. If you picture a cone underneath the bow of your boat that gets wider as you get deeper, you start to understand how these diagonal lines form. While it may not always be the case, here’s one of my best tips for reading sonar and judging those diagonal lines.
READ RELATED: Lowrance Screenshot Interpretation | White Bass | Rock Shoal Transition | Deep Flat with Jordan Lee
Lowrance Screenshot #2 | Group of Smallies
Lines that are interpreted to be fish can be confusing sometimes too. In this instance, there are numerous fish (some bass, some not) on the screenshot, but many anglers don’t realize that if you’re sitting still and you’re seeing streaks, those are actively feeding fish. Have you ever seen fish on your screen, dropped down to them, but never got a bite? It’s probably because the fish are no longer within the cone out in front of your boat.
This screenshot shows a group of one to two-pound smallmouth bass out deep towards the month of October. I could find these fish on Lowrance’s SideScan, mark them, only to target them on the trolling motor with no success. The frustration lies in the fact that just because we mark fish on StructureScan, it doesn’t mean they’ll be there when we go to catch them a few minutes after shutting down the big motor. I ended up finding this school of smallmouth about 50-yards down river from where I first marked them. Sometimes it pays to cover water!
READ RELATED: Lowrance Screenshot Interpretation | Concrete Slab | Mid-Sized Baitfish | Bottom Comp Change
Lowrance Screenshot #3 | Large Fish Vs. Smaller Fish
Suspended fish can sometimes give off a false interpretation. Watching for color changes and using different Lowrance color palettes can help identify how many fish you are dealing with in a given circumstance. In this instance, what I thought may have been two or three large fish turned into a group of smaller fish by comparing traditional 2D sonar with DownScan Imaging.
This tip comes from identifying baitfish; so that you can match the hatch with confidence. If you knew that the bass in your home lake were keying in on perch, or say crappie, would you try to imitate those baitfish? Of course you would! This is one way to get an exact idea of the situation for a given day.
This screenshot was from the first week of December. Seeing these fish on the screen gave a friend and I the idea to fish up shallow. Joe and I were fishing deeper when we noticed there was not much activity beyond 12-feet. He took that knowledge and we hit the closest bank. That decision helped us catch a few fish when otherwise, we would have went home empty-handed. It’s all about paying attention to the little details when it comes to making the most of your Lowrance units.
Click for more Lowrance Screenshot Intrepetations: